Progressive Planting

Abbey Road Farms is experimenting with many grape varieties not yet common in the Willamette Valley

Their philosophy deeply rooted in education and discovery, Abbey Road planted their organic vineyard in 2017. The farm has 16 different varieties of grapes and is working to achieve organic and biodynamic certifications. In addition to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, one-acre blocks are planted with Gamay Noir, Pinot Meunier, Cabernet Franc, Mencia, Mondeuse, Trousseau Noir, Trousseau Gris, Chenin Blanc, Godello, Grüner Veltliner, Aligoté, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscat.

The Willamette Valley is more than just Pinot

Abbey Road Farm’s Director of Winemaking, Blair Trathen says, “The Willamette Valley has long focused on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, so having broad and eclectic range of varieties is both interesting and exciting. Many of these grapes are quite uncommon for Oregon. In fact, we don’t know of any Mencia, Godello, or Mondeuse in the Willamette Valley and are looking forward to offering consumers something new, something fresh.”

Working with uncommon, estate-grown fruit feels extremely compelling for Trathen: he hopes to make the best Oregon expression of those grapes. “I’m not trying to replicate what’s done in other regions,” he says. “You have to try to reflect as honestly as you can, the site and the climate you’re given, and see what that site and terroir can do, instead of forcing the wine to conform in a specific direction.”

Vineyard Manager of Abbey Road Farm, Stirling Fox (also the General Manager of Stirling Wine Grapes) explained, “We wanted to make more than the traditional varieties and aim to bring back some that were popular in previous generations in Oregon, like Chenin Blanc. I’ve heard stories of Chenin plantings in Oregon from the 1970s and ’80s, but those are long gone — either ripped out or grafted over. As of 2012, the only Chenin Blanc in Oregon was at Idiot’s Grace Wines in Mosier. That’s a real shame.”

In addition to Chenin Blanc, Fox feels certain that numerous other varieties also have the potential to do well in the Willamette Valley… Read the full story here on Oregon Wine Press.

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